Deu_32:1. Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of mymouth.
Because men are so slow of hearing, Moses calls on the heavens and the earth to bear witness against them; and because of the sublimity of his subject, he calls upon the heavens and the earth to pay attention to it.
Deu_32:2. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
It is good preaching, and good hearing too, when the gospel comes like a gentle shower which saturates and soaks into the soil, and refreshes and makes it fruitful; may God the Holy Spirit make it to be so whenever we gather together for worship! The Word of the Lord may be as a driving hail, breaking everything upon which it falls, and so becoming the savour of death unto death. But may God make it to us as the dew and the small rain from heaven, that it may be a savour of life unto life!
Deu_32:3-5. Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves,
What a contrast there is between the incorruptible and immutable God and corruptible man! “They have corrupted themselves,”—
Deu_32:5. Their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
God’s children have spots,—the spot caused, by sin, which are recognized, mourned over, and struggled against by them; the ungodly have the same sort of spots but they have no repentance concerning the sin which causes them.
Deu_32:6. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
Sin is the basest form of ingratitude. We owe everything to God, and we ought therefore to treat him as our Creator and Father should be treated. On the contrary, how often have we requited him evil for good, and acted as if we regarded him as our enemy rather than as our best Friend!
Deu_32:7-8. Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
His first thought was concerning his own people. He provided Canaan for them; it was just the very land for them, with space enough, and yet with not too much room, so that they might cultivate it all, and prove it to be a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet these special thoughts of God, with regard to his own chosen people, did not exclude kind thoughts towards the rest of mankind, for “he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people,” that is, the people belonging to other nations; but, still, his deepest and his highest thoughts were concerning the children of Israel.
Deu_32:9-10. For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
And is not this also a true description of God’s love and kindness to you and to me, beloved in the Lord? Did he not find us in the wilderness? Has he not led us about, trod by our experience instructed us, and has he not guarded us with as much watchful care as a man bestows upon the apple of his eye? Oh, blessed be his holy name, we owe everything to him! He giveth us everything that we have.
Deu_32:11-14. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.
God fed his ancient people with the best of the best, and gave it to them with no stinted hand; and, oh! when I think of the spiritual food which God has prepared or his people, surely “butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs,” and all such carnal things are but poor in comparison with the provisions of his grace. In a spiritual sense, the Lord hath indeed given to us “a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of mallow, of wines on the lees well refined.” But now look again at the contrast between the Lord and his ancient people. God’s great goodness makes man’s sin appear all the blacker:—
Deu_32:15. But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
Many can endure the trials of adversity who cannot escape the perils of prosperity. Solomon truly said, “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise;” and many a man has failed in that time of testing. When you come to be wealthy, to be admired, to receive honour among men, then is the time of your severest trial.
Deu_32:16-17. They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Moses multiples expressions to show the folly of Israel’s idolatry. Only think of “new gods that came newly up,” as if that which is new could be a god! The same thing may be said of the “new truth” of which we hear so much nowadays. That which is new cannot be true. Certainly, there is nothing new in theology but that which is utterly false. The idols, which the Israelites worshipped, were not only new gods, but they were strange gods, which their fathers feared not. Worse than that, they were demons: “they sacrificed unto devils not to God.” How low had even the chosen people sunk!
Deu_32:18-27. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mischiefs upon them, I wilt spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. I said, I would scatter them into corners? I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: were it not—
Here is a sweet word of grace amid the just judgments of Jehovah: “Were it not”—
Deu_32:27. That I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this.
So he spared them for his own name’s sake; and, to this day, when God can find no other reason for showing mercy to the guilty, he does it for his name’s sake; and this is a blessed plea, to be urged by a man who can see no reason why God should have mercy upon him. He may say, “Lord, do it for thy name’s sake, to make thy grace and thy mercy illustrious, in the salvation of such a poor, hopeless wretch as I am.”
Deu_32:28-32. For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up? For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine—
That is, the vine of God’s enemies,-
Deu_32:32-34. Is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
What a striking and startling question that is, as though God laid up the memory of man’s sin, sealed it up, and kept it in a secret place against the day when he shall call sinners to account, and visit them for their iniquities! What an awful thing it is to have the sins of one’s youth laid up, sealed up, and put away in God’s treasury; and the sins of middle life, and perhaps the sins of old age, too, to be brought out, by-and-by, and laid to our charge! Who shall be able to stand in that great day? Only those who are washed in the blood: and robed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Deu_32:35-38. To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the LORD shall judge his people and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
To you who trust in anything except God, the day will come when you will hear such terrible words as these—“Now let your riches save you, let your pleasures and your vices cheer you; go ye now in your own wicked ways, and see if you can find any comfort in them!” What holy sarcasm there is in these words, which will cut to the quick the conscience when it is once fairly aroused!
Deu_32:39-43. See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.
It is only in mercy, you see, that the Lord deals with his people; they cannot stand before him on the ground of justice, but in his mercy is their place of refuge. May we all find that mercy by fleeing for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us in Christ Jesus and his glorious gospel! Amen.